Methyl methacrylate (MMA) flooring systems are fast becoming a popular choice for large-scale commercial and industrial construction projects due to their many advantages. Given the right conditions, an MMA floor can reach a full physical and chemical cure within only 60 min
of installation. This means that the surface can be subjected to full operational use under an extremely tight turnaround, especially when compared to the days or weeks that most epoxy, cementitious urethane, or concrete floors take to cure.

MMA systems derive this capability from the chemical formulation of the coating, in which a methacrylic ester is combined with an organic peroxide (usually benzoyl peroxide). The organic peroxide acts as a catalyst to quickly fuse the two components together into one solid, monolithic mass. This curing mechanism contrasts to epoxies and cementitious urethanes, which take time for the separate components to combine together to form a crosslinked matrix.

Along with speeding up the whole flooring project, this fast-acting nature can make MMAs a practical choice for a number of reasons. The way in which an MMA welds itself together means that it isn’t as sensitive to cold temperatures and moisture during the critical curing period. This allows for substantially sized areas to be easily completed in conditions as low as -20°F, which is ideal for an unheated construction site or a supermarket that needs to resurface a large cold store but that doesn’t want to waste time bringing the area’s temperature up and then down again.

Application Advantages

The deep penetrating primers and thermoplastic fusing of the MMA layer to the substrate creates an unbreakable bond that ensures the material’s longevity, with installations lasting in excess of 15 years with correct maintenance. In addition, unlike labor-intensive trowel-applied resin systems, MMAs are typically flow applied and hand broadcast with aggregates, allowing wide spans of flooring to be installed at a significantly faster rate than other materials while at the same time ensuring a high-quality finish that is free of trowel marks.

MMA flooring can be installed on old or new concrete, as well as asphalt, polymer, tiles, metal, wood, and marine ply. This versatility saves hours in surface preparation, particularly in maintenance shutdown scenarios, as it can be applied directly on to the existing floor finish.

A dated MMA floor can be refreshed by layering a new MMA coating on top of the old one. The new layer chemically fuses to the previous floor, creating a monolithic system that will not delaminate. This means that floors can be upgraded for a fraction of the cost, time and disruption that replacing an entire floor would take.

MMA flooring is non-toxic and extremely low in volatile organic compounds (VOCs). The material does exhibit a distinct odor during installation; however, this is entirely harmless, can be completely eliminated with the right ventilation program in place, and disappears once curing has occurred.

The speed and versatility of MMAs doesn’t come at the cost of other properties that architects and end users typically look for, such as easy cleanability, durability, and aesthetics. In fact, MMA systems are available that can provide comparable benefits to other types of polymer floors (such as epoxies and cementitious urethanes), as they can create large expanses of impervious, colorful and hard wearing flooring.

Different options are available depending on the specific needs of the site, such as hard-wearing options for heavy industrial applications and stylish finishes for busy commercial sites. Contamination-sensitive environments, such as the food and beverage industry, as well as pharmaceutical and healthcare sectors, can take advantage of the seamless surface of an MMA coating, as it is easy to clean. In addition, the unbroken finish means that bacteria cannot accumulate in hard-to-clean gaps, joints or grout lines in the floor.

Design Choices

MMAs provide a wealth of design and pattern opportunities. The material retains color vibrancy well and, where required, can be color matched to neighboring surfaces or interiors. The material is also suitable for use in conjunction with an operational management program that uses color zoning, navigational signage and safety instructions on the plant’s floor.

The chemical resistance of MMA flooring helps to protect its seamless and colorful finish, as it is protected from a range of chemicals and foodstuffs, including most organic and mineral acids, alkalis, salt solutions, natural oils and fats, disinfectants, cleansers, and caustic soda. This type of floor also offers exceptional stain resistance properties and is unlikely to discolor, which is useful in supermarkets, bars and restaurants where spillages are commonplace.

When considering the onsite cleaning regime, it is important to remember that MMA systems tend to be more susceptible to damage from solvents. While all polymer floors are liable to be attacked by strong solvents, MMAs are particularly at risk because the methacrylic ester will be most affected by aromatic solvents compared to all the other chemicals that go into resin floors. This effectively means that prolonged exposure to strong solvents is likely to corrode and deteriorate the component that makes up the backbone of an MMA system.

The safety profile of an MMA floor can be enhanced with anti-slip aggregates. This is advantageous in wet service environments where damp conditions can pose slip risks, leading to serious injury, significant cost to employers, delays in production or, in extreme cases, impairment of the company’s brand reputation.  

Case in Point

MMA flooring materials were recently installed at Perth City Railway Station in Australia. The station needed to renovate the floor finish across its upper level concourse area, as the constant heavy foot traffic was starting to deteriorate the floor tiles that were in place. To achieve this, 2,650 m2 of an MMA-based resin floor topping made up of color-stable quartz granules encapsulated in a clear resin binder was installed. This solution allowed the station to create a vibrant and artistic floor area over the course of a single night, safe in the knowledge that the next day the floor would be able to withstand foot traffic from the site’s 60,000 daily commuters.

Adaptable Solutions

Due to the fast cure time of the material, MMA flooring offers new-build and renovation projects a solution that will reduce downtime and minimize any loss of revenue that would result from stopping operations for a long period of time while waiting for the floor to cure. The adaptability of MMA systems means that they are a great way to ensure that the completed surface will work for the facility for an extended period of time. However, it is important to ensure that the chosen finish is well-tailored to the future needs of the site and that the long-term goals of the floor aren’t overlooked for a short-term application advantage. ASI

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